Eating Disorders in College Students: Problem-Solution Essay

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What is an eating disorder? Is it a mental illness or is it a disease? According to the article ‘What are Eating Disorders?’ written by Ranna Parekh, she says that eating disorders are illnesses in which people experience severe disturbances, neither eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Every year thousands of students are recruited to be student athletes at colleges, and every year approximately 8 million individuals suffer from eating disorders.

According to ‘Psychology Applied to Modern Life’, eating disorders are defined as “severe disturbances in eating behavior characterized by a preoccupation with weight and unhealthy efforts to control weight”. Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and more. With risk factors such as low self-esteem, pressure from family, friends and coaches and access to unlimited to food, it is no wonder that collegiate athletes have higher rates of eating disorders than regular college students. Athlete's battling eating disorders may experience symptoms such as anemia, muscle loss, osteoporosis, electrolyte imbalance, heart problems, and hormone changes.

1,445 student athletes from multiple different Division 1 schools participated in order to see the prevalence of eating disorders in a variety of different sports. The student athletes were asked questions about their athletic involvement, eating behaviors, drug and alcohol behavior, and attitudes about their body image. 81% of females reported feeling out of control of eating, while only 45% of males reported feeling out of control. Although males' results were always smaller than women, they are still at rise and suffering from eating disorders. With this study it is obvious that all athletes experience demands that push them to turn to abnormal and dangerous eating patterns.

Gymnasts and dancers are highly at risk for developing eating disorders for multiple reasons. In an article in the American College of Sports Medicine published in 1992, studies were conducted that reported that there is a 62% prevalence of eating disorders in gymnasts. In a similar study done in dancers it was found that 69% of the participants reported eating disorders. One very well-known case of abnormal eating behaviors was in Christy Henrich, who was said to be one of the best gymnasts of our time.

Dehydration happens when one does not drink enough fluids, ingests diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine or eats lots of salt. Long distance runners and endurance athletes are likely to develop eating disorders. Runners may have the misconception that by losing weight they will improve their performance but thinking like this is what leads to eating disorders. Many of the world's greatest runners have reported eating disorders, such as Chrissie Wellington, and Amber Trotter. Both of these female runners report that they were not even aware that they had a problem with an eating disorder.

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Some people may be emotional eaters, who take pleasure in scarfing down five chocolate chip cookies from the café. Then there are some that take the pressure that they are under and let it development into a disorder. They may eat those cookies, and run those extra miles, and then still feel the need to purge the food that they had earlier consumed, or to simply not eat at all.

There are many factors that make people more at risk for eating disorders. In some cases, people are predisposed to be more prone to eating disorders. Factors such as gender, ethnicity, early childhood eating patterns, elevated weight and shape concerns and sexual abuse can make someone more likely to develop an eating disorder. In this instance, the lack of support or the pressure from one's support team itself may drive the athlete to develop an eating disorder. Someone struggling with an eating disorder may have a fear of becoming fat, or simply feelings of helplessness. It is important that people suffering from eating disorders find healthy outlets to relieve tension.

There are a multitude of different treatment options that a person can take when they are recovering from an eating disorder. Many different studies are being conducted on binge eaters and different types of treatments that would be beneficial to them. In one study done by Stice, Shaw and Marti, they studied male and female adolescents suffering from eating disorders and how well prevention programs decreased eating disorder risk factors. During my fieldwork with Ronda Bokram, who is a nutritionist at the Olin Health Center, I learned about recovery from eating disorders. The length of recovery depends on the reasoning behind the eating disorder, the resources that an individual uses for recovery, and generally what barriers that they will have to pass in their treatment. Also, during my research, I discovered that Michigan State University offers these assistive programs for those suffering from eating disorders. Bokram let me know that MSU has an eating disorder team on campus, as well as two eating disorder support groups.

Millions of people in the United States are affected by eating disorders. There can be very severe consequences, especially when people are uneducated on nutrition and eating disorders. Every year, thousands of high school athletes move up to the big leagues and become college athletes. With the pressures that athletes feel daily, it is no wonder that they are more vulnerable to eating disorders than regular college students are. Early detection and intervention are vital to preventing eating disorders as well. As an emerging adult, the college student engages in new responsibilities, such as figuring out their financial stability, and learning how to manage time between school-work, job, and other activities. While learning how to practice time management students' eating habits in college seem to be a problem, and with the media college students are more likely to engage in disturbed eating behaviors. Disturbed eating behaviors are increasing among college students, and are now being researched. One of the most common eating behaviors among college students are binge-eating and excessive exercising. As college students engage in disturbed eating behaviors, they are putting themselves at risk in developing chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular, hypertension, being overweight, and obesity in the later years.

As college students it is difficult to maintain focus in all aspects of our lives, and some aspects go unseen, they need ways to keep healthy and maintain healthy habits that will be practiced throughout their college experience. Perhaps one of the options could be shopping centers budget friendly for college students that provide healthy food options for students. Women college students tend to be targeted by the media and what the perfect body is supposed to be. Health courses should be mandated to incoming freshmen to provide information to students and resources that students can utilize on their specific campus.

In conclusion all in all, college students and college athletes have a lot of things to deal with during their college experience. Some of the students neglect their eating behaviors and unknowingly engage in disturbed eating behaviors. Exercise is an exception as it could either be viewed as a healthy component, but if a student exercises excessively, it becomes a compensatory eating behavior. As mentioned above, the intervention of health education as a requirement for students should decrease the amount of students engaging in disturbed eating behaviors, and the use of 21st century technology should be beneficial for college students.

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Eating Disorders in College Students: Problem-Solution Essay. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/eating-disorders-in-college-students-problem-solution-essay/
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Eating Disorders in College Students: Problem-Solution Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/eating-disorders-in-college-students-problem-solution-essay/> [Accessed 25 May 2024].
Eating Disorders in College Students: Problem-Solution Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2024 May 25]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/eating-disorders-in-college-students-problem-solution-essay/
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